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Asking 'Where's Waldo' helps increase local bookstore business

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(Read caption) Figurines of Waldo were found at various local businesses throughout the month of July as part of the 'Find Waldo Local' campaign.

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It was the answer to an age-old question: Where’s Waldo?

The elusive brown-haired man in the striped shirt was found hiding in bookstores and local businesses across the US as “Waldo” publisher Candlewick celebrated the 25th anniversary of the children’s series by creating "Find Waldo Local." Starting on July 1, residents of participating towns could find Waldo figurines in up to 20 businesses. These included a 40-inch Waldo model and multiple 20-inch versions. Participants received prizes, including a box set of “Where’s Waldo?: The Complete Collection.” The driving force behind the campaign? Honor Waldo, but also get customers inside the doors of independent businesses.

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The "Find Waldo Local" campaign was inspired by the bookstore Eight Cousins in Falmouth, Mass. The owner of Eight Cousins, Carol Chittenden, went to Candlewick with the idea for a "Where’s Waldo" scavenger hunt, and the idea was test-driven in Falmouth, where more than 500 children got involved.

In the national "Find Waldo Local" scavenger hunt, more than 5,000 businesses across America participated in 250 cities, and Elise Supovitz, director of field sales at Candlewick, said feedback had been overwhelmingly positive.

“Over the past week, I’ve received dozens of over-the-moon e-mails from booksellers singing the praises of Find Waldo Local,” she told the American Booksellers Association. “Virtually every bookseller has asked the same question: ‘Can we do it again next year?’”

Supovitz said they planned to bring back "Find Waldo Local" for the summer of 2013.

Many bookstores and local businesses said they saw an increase in sales for the month, including Vintage Books owner Becky Milner, whose store is located in Vancouver.

“July was perfect timing,” Milner told the American Library Association. “This was a great project for many families.”